Reviewby Melissa Harper,
Having finally defeated Nero Chaos, Shiki starts to settle back into his normal school routine. He isn't given much of a break, however; vampire attacks are still occuring within the city. With Nero dead, Shiki wonders who is responsible for the attacks, and seeks out Arcueid. As a vampire, she must surely know something about the attacks; she may even be the one responsible. Meanwhile, there may be more to several people in Shiki's life than meets the eye, including his sister.
In volume three, Tsukihime seems to find its pace. The introductions are finally over, and the story settles in, with much more attention given to the that and the bigger picture, while still including some fast-paced battles with Arcueid showing off her vampire skills, and Shiki proving he can really use that knife.
At least the cover isn't misleading on this volume. Skiki's sister Akiha graces the front of the book, and looks none too happy about it! It is a lovely cover, albeit a little bit busy what with the criss-crossed type, with a striking red and blue color scheme. Most importantly, Akiha actually is somewhat important in this volume! She was never too likable, and while the truth about her isn't fully revealed in this volume, we are given quite a bit of hinting that she is not what she seems. This hinting is mostly done by the cover girl of volume two, Ciel, who is definitely not what she seems, and also has a more active role in this volume, finally.
Indeed, the volume practically starts with Ciel and Shiki, having a little shoujo moment in the school courtyard. That's one nice thing about this volume; volume two was very dark, focused almost entirely on the battle against Nero. Volume three has a lighter feel, and that allows the reader to get a little more attached to the characters. Sure, it is amazing that Shiki can defeat vampires of an awesome caliber, but don't you like him a bit more because he can mend a fence? He also gets in some friendly banter with his buddies, spends some time learning the layout of his home, and getting to know his personal staff.
He also moves beyond introductory status with Arcueid. The original deal was only that he would help take down Nero, but surely you owe the girl you murdered a bit more than that, right? At least, that's how Shiki tries to rationalize it. However, his actions (and one rather funny dream sequence) show that maybe he feels more for Arcueid than a sense of shame for slicing her up at the beginning of the series. In the one really dramatic battle in the volume, he actually seems to get jealous of the undead corpse trying to get friendly with Arcueid, and goes on a knife rampage over it. Romance is definitely in the forecast for these two.
Fighting is also in the forecast; apparently Nero was just a sample in a large selection of vampire baddies that Shiki and Arcueid will be facing up against as they continue their quest to destroy the Undead Apostles. In this volume, the fight is mainly against low-level minions, but they come in some pretty heavy numbers occasionally. The fighting looks good, and is easy to follow, even with the visual mess that Shiki's “death perception” causes, the actions and movements of the characters are clear.
Thankfully, the battles don't overpower the story in this volume, and a step back is taken to observe the big picture of the story. Volume two was so focused on the battle with Nero, not much else was discussed, and it felt a little claustrophobic. Everything gets a little more exposition, from the details about the vampires, to the family history that has Shiki a stranger in his own house.
The quality of the artwork is consistent with previous volumes in the series. While there is nothing groundbreaking in the art style, it is neat and clean, and precise, although Arcueid could really do with a wardrobe change after three volumes. The quality of the printing is fairly poor, however. The pages are Bible thin, making it almost impossible not to skip pages accidentally. The cover is pretty flimsy as well; it has the sturdiness of construction paper run through the school laminating machine. Speaking of school office equipment, the school copy machine might have done a better job on the printing as well; it often looks fine, but just as often the text from one page bleeds through to the backside, or blotchy shadows appear in the darker portions of panels. Content-wise, there is absolutely nothing extra, not even advertisements at the end of the book. Heck, there isn't even a synopsis on the back of the thing to tell you what it is about.
Tsukihime volume three is neither visually stunning nor a page turning read. If you were put off by the first two volumes, then you should know that it is an improvement over those as far as development and storytelling goes, but it remains a mostly mediocre, vampire hunting vampire story.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Some character exposition; more story is revealed.
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